LARNED — Nathan Chlumsky, a Larned native, competed in the North American Tae Kwon Do Association tournament on Saturday, April 14, winning four medals.
Chlumsky competed in four events — Olympic Sparring, empty-hand, weapon forms/kata and self defense. He won two gold medals, a silver and a bronze.
“Every tournament I’ve competed in, I’ve won something,” Chlumsky said. “I’ve gotten at least third place if not better. Within the past two years, I’ve started winning first-place trophies. In the past, I used to have to settle for second or third place. I never got first.
“That was when I got to compete for Grand Champion. The winners of the different events compete against one another to see who is the Grand Champion. So far, the best I’ve done is second place.”
The medals bring his award total to 35 trophies in his career.
The victories qualify him for the national championship held in August in Michigan.
“I haven’t decided whether or not I’ll go to the national championship,” Chlumsky said. “It depends on if I can get away for that long.”
Chlumsky is the sensei and owner of the Kobra Kai Karate Academy in Larned. He holds a fourth-degree black belt and is the Kansas director of the Shorin Ryu Matsumura Seito Wakido Kai Karate Federation.
Karate attracted Chlumsky at a very young age.
“I always loved martial arts since I was a kid,” Chlumsky said. “I wanted to do it back then, but my parents wouldn’t let me. They never thought I would stick with it.
“Then I got into college at Barton County Community College. Most colleges offer some type of martial arts as a physical education elective. I took Tae Kwon Do under Joe Felke there in Great Bend.”
Before long, Chlumsky was attending a local karate class as well. He did that for a couple of years before heading to Fort Hays State University.
“I was on the Fort Hays State martial arts team, and I was doing another type of Tae Kwon Do there,” Chlumsky said.
Chlumsky started competing only a year after starting his training.
“When I was a color belt, I think I started in 1993 and I started competing in 1994,” Chlumsky said. “I competed and did really well. Then I met some people with the World Congress Martial Arts Team U.S.A. In 1998, I actually qualified to go to Cancun, Mexico, for the Goodwill Martial Arts Games.
“I wasn’t able to go because it was about $3,000 at a big resort.”
But after 1998, he stopped training and competing for about 12 years before returning to the sport.
“Then I got back into training shortly after I got my second-degree black belt around 2010-2011,” Chlumsky said.
Since 2010, Chlumsky has competed in eight tournaments, winning 25 awards.
He is currently trying to get more people interested in martial arts, but he said it’s a struggle.
“It’s very difficult to get people into karate,” Chlumsky said. “The statistics are very bad. If you want three people to join, basically you have to have 30 people to say they will join.”